Remembering Harold S. Martin

Editorial
March/April, 2024
Volume 59, Number 2

Our good Brother Harold S. Martin passed from this life to his eternal reward on January 5, 2024, at the age of 93. His wife, Priscilla, preceded him in death in 2020 during the Pandemic. Harold’s funeral was held January 13 at the White Oak Church, and the primary funeral text was taken from Habakkuk 2:2, which states, “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets.” That verse, in a nutshell, very aptly describes his life’s work and his extensive writings which can continue to be a blessing to many.

Harold was a very humble man about his talents. He was a bright student. In his younger years he taught math in the public school system. However, he chose early retirement so that he could spend more time in writing. He was called to be a deacon and then a minister at the Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren (now Pleasant Hill Brethren) in York
County, Pennsylvania. He started writing articles for Bible Helps, a gospel tract ministry started by members of his home church and continued writing hundreds of articles for over 60 years.

He was likely the last living person who attended the late-night prayer meeting at Ocean Grove, Annual Conference, in 1959 which gave birth to the beginning of the Brethren Revival Fellowship. He became known as one of the primary leaders and the primary writer for BRF. He wrote and edited the 18-volume Brethren New Testament Commentary series. He taught two or three classes at the Brethren Bible Institute every year for 30 years. He represented BRF at many Annual Conferences and managed BRF’s literature stand and shared information and counsel to many.

He was a giant defender of the Bible as the written Word of God. He believed, without any compromise, in the full inspiration, authority, and trustworthiness of the Scriptures from cover to cover! He taught us to not say, “The Bible contains the Word of God,” but to say, “The Bible is the Word of God.” As editor of the BRF Witness over the many years, he frequently was encouraging the church to get back to the Bible. He was not afraid to point out the erroneous influences of liberalism.

Fortunately for all of us, BRF has become the custodian for Harold’s writings. We aim to continue to print some of his unpublished articles and also do some reprinting of earlier manuscripts. The conclusion of many is that when you look at all the piles of written material that he authored, he most likely is the most widely read Brethren writer that ever lived! The power of Harold’s pen will continue to live on and be a blessing long into the future.

Knowing something of the modesty of Harold, if he were still with us, and if he were still sitting in the editor’s chair, he would likely get his pen out and red-mark out many of the achievements that Craig Alan Myers mentions in his accompanying article. He never wanted to draw attention to himself. But since he is not here, and since his red marker is not being lifted, it seems appropriate to summarize the extent of his work. Second Timothy 2:15 says, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved by Him, a workman who has no need to be ashamed, rightly explaining the word of truth” (NRSV). As we look back over his life, it is evident that Harold took this verse to heart and made it his life’s ambition. Harold, it has been a pleasure to work with you these many years. And now may you fully enjoy the wonders of the Glory World!
— James F. Myer

Remembering Harold S. Martin

August 7, 1930 – January 5, 2024

By Craig Alan Myers

Harold S. Martin leaves behind a tremendous heritage of writing, teaching, preaching, and counsel to Christians around the world.

Harold was born in Ephrata, Pennsylvania, to Noah and Helen Martin. Noah was a minister and later, elder-in-charge of the Blue Ball Church of the Brethren in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. Harold was a child of the Great Depression. He related, years later, that “money was scarce and material goods were not very abundant.” When he started school in 1936, he was given one penny every Wednesday to stop at the store for a piece of candy. He was of the inkwell, cracker barrel and castor oil days, and later his home was on a seven-party telephone line.

Noah Martin worked at a hardware store in Ephrata for 62 years. As a boy, Harold assisted his father there with various chores, and he later worked at the store on his own. He began a bicycle repair shop in his father’s garage at age 13, and repaired and rebuilt bicycles, which were hard to come by in World War II. He trusted Christ on September 28, 1942, at the age of 12, after hearing Alton Bucher preach in a revival meeting. Nearly six years later, August 13, 1948, he gave his life anew in dedication to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Harold graduated from Ephrata High School in 1948 as co-valedictorian in a class of 106 students. He wrote, “I was so nervous, and my heart was beating so actively, that during the Commencement program, I asked Naomi Mohler, who sat next to me, if she could hear my heart beating.”

After he spent a year learning machining at Wyomissing Polytechnic Institute, he began college training at Millersville State Teacher’s College (now Millersville University of Pennsylvania). He finished his Bachelor of Science degree in education in 2½ years. During college, he was a substitute teacher and student teacher in Lancaster County. He began his teaching career proper at Gettysburg High School in 1952, and then taught mathematics for 25 years at Spring Grove Junior High School in York County, PA. Many a student in that public school remembers 5 his no-nonsense teaching with great appreciation, even while viewing it with great trepidation at the time.

In August 1950, Harold married Priscilla Miller from the Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren congregation (now Pleasant Hill Brethren Church). To their union were born six children—three boys and three girls. The youngest, Berdene, was taken from this world after 8½ years of suffering through cancer at the age of 32. Brother Harold and Sister Priscilla personally attended to many of her needs through those years.

Priscilla was an ideal life partner for Harold, as she accompanied him on many of his preaching journeys, and as she often maintained the home fires with their six children while they were in school and he was away on preaching and teaching assignments.

He joined the Pleasant Hill congregation, and was called as a deacon there on March 23, 1951. The congregation called him to the ministry on September 27, 1952, at the age of 22. He received a great deal of practical ministry education in preparing sermons, assisting the elder-in-charge Paul Newcomer, and working with a body of older ministers in that plural ministry congregation. Ordained to the Brethren eldership in 1966, he then became the presiding elder at the Pleasant Hill Church of the Brethren in 1973 for a three-year term.

Harold continued to pursue further college education by earning a Master of Education degree in 1956, and, after being called to the preaching ministry, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Literature from Messiah College in 1962. Later he completed work for a Doctor of Ministry degree. He also pursued continuing education studies at Princeton Theological Seminary, Dallas Theological Seminary, Bethany Theological Seminary, and Beeson Divinity School.

He traveled to all United States, and to 50 countries around the world, including the Philippines, India, New Zealand, Kenya, and Canada, mostly on preaching assignments. He preached in over onefourth of Church of the Brethren congregations, in each of the major denominations of the Schwarzenau Brethren, and in at least 17 other denominations as well.

Harold related that some of the most delightful experiences of his preaching ministry “were times when there was real evidence of revival—at New Fairview (York County, PA); at Brummett’s Creek, North Carolina; at Constantine, Michigan; and at White Oak (Lancaster County, PA). At each of these meetings there were between 25 and 50 persons who had come forward in response to the invitation.”

His writing first came to attention in the 1950s with the booklet, “What Happened to the Church of the Brethren?” This would lead to the organization of Brethren Revival Fellowship in 1959 under the leadership of godly men such as Linford Rotenberger and W. Hartman Rice. Harold was one of the last surviving members of the prayer meeting held at the 1959 Ocean Grove (N.J.) Church of the Brethren Annual Conference where Brethren Revival Fellowship began.

Bible Helps asked Harold to write for its publication in the early 1950’s, and he wrote numerous articles for Bible Helps through the years. Some articles were translated into Spanish, French, German, Russian, and various languages in India, Africa, and the Philippines. Through that ministry, he was the most widely published and read Brethren author in history. His first book was Sermons on Eternal Themes published in 1970. He then wrote books on Romans, Revelation and Brethren History.

In 1966, he became the first editor of the BRF Witness, and he served in that capacity for 50 years. He wrote and edited the 18-volume Brethren New Testament Commentary, as well as commentaries on a book in each of the Old Testament genres. He authored books on the New Testament Doctrines and Practices, major Bible doctrines, a complete survey of the Bible, and a guidebook for young men, among others.

He represented Brethren Revival Fellowship at the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference in cities across the United States every year for over 40 years in a row.

He wrote Sunday School lessons for Brethren Press, and did radio commentary on the International Sunday School lessons for the Sunday School Meditations radio program for 11 years. He taught for over thirty years at the annual Brethren Bible 7 Institute, and served as its first principal when it was started in 1974. He served on the Church of the Brethren Annual Conference Standing Committee and on the General Board of the Church of the Brethren. He was always conscientiously and carefully prepared.

Aside from traveling and preaching in many congregations, he was pleased and surprised in 1992 to be asked to teach an intensive course at Bethany Theological Seminary of the Church of the Brethren. He taught the course titled, Evangelical Theology, in which he related the systematic doctrines of the Bible from an evangelical Brethren perspective, at a time when many began to question whether evangelical and Brethren understandings could harmonize.

Few others in the history of the Brethren movement have had the influential ministry that God was able to provide through Brother Harold Martin. His preaching was challenging, touching, and instructive. His teaching was careful and filled with information. And perhaps greatest of all was that his living was consistent with the values he taught. May we all continue to learn from his ministry and life.

In 2023, Brethren Maine Missions (BMM) purchased the Building Materials Exchange.  The Last Sheaf Building Materials Exchange provides exposure and connection with the community of Lisbon while offering a variety of new, used, and salvaged building materials, tools, and supplies at greatly reduced prices.

Why “The Last Sheaf?”

The Last Sheaf is a reference from the Bible where God says:

When you reap your harvest in your field, and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.

Deuteronomy 24:19 (NKJV)

Links:

  • https://lastsheafbme.org/

Highlights:

   GOD is faithful! The sun shines and GOD is with us, the rain comes down and GOD is with us.

 

   Since we’ve taken ownership of the Last Sheaf BME, we’ve made roof repairs, insulated the ceiling, repaired walls, etc. There were times it felt like every step we took there was another thing to fix. 

 

   We have two people on staff (Craig Keeney and Peter Bucher) assisted by a tremendous team of volunteers. We work together to make repairs, do pricing and inventory work, assist customers and more.  Interacting with and helping customers is the highlight of our day. People come with material needs; they need product to build or repair their home. People come with spiritual and emotional needs, as well. We purpose to get to know the individuals who come through our doors in order to share hope, truth, and love.

 

   One individual who had visited the Last Sheaf a couple of times was loud, large, and in charge. He had a “Goliath” personality. He made me quake in my boots a little (maybe a lot). His language was at times not appropriate anywhere, but especially not in a public place. One day he was standing right beside me and was about to speak that which I did not want to hear.  In a very quiet voice, I called him by name and before I could say any more, he apologized and said, “You are right. I shouldn’t be talking like that.”  Then he launched into a spiritual conversation with me. I was totally taken off guard by the change. He has been a different person ever since. Now he is more like a “David” personality. I now look forward to opportunities to speak with him.

 

   Donations of products/materials as well as finances are always appreciated, but the prayers of the saints are as vital a need to the work at the Last Sheaf, as anything.

Just as in biblical times the last sheaves of grain from a harvest were to be left behind to benefit the needy, we are taking leftover building materials, tools, and supplies and making them available at greatly reduced prices to those in need.

Our Mission:

Our mission is to benefit low-income homeowners, and to reduce waste in the environment by repurposing surplus building materials, enabling low income homeowners to better maintain their homes.

Register Now

BBI Registration Now Open!

Come explore God’s Word with us!. “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. – Romans 10:17”

THE BOOK OF DANIEL

Captivity… Dreams… Rulers… Fire… Lions… Prayers… Kingdoms. From a dedicated youth to a faithful sage, Daniel’s life stands as an example to follow.  Yet beyond his personal life, God gifted Daniel with a message of future events.  Though difficult to grasp, these events would shape the world for the coming Messiah and the Second Coming of Christ as King.

STUDIES IN LUKE

Luke presents a warmly personal and historically accurate account of Jesus as “the Son of Man.” This course will survey the Third Gospel, with emphasis on the unique events, miracles, and parables of Jesus found in it.

HISTORY OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH

This class will provide a broad overview of general church history. We will then focus on the Anabaptist and Pietist movements, especially as they relate to the formation and development of the Brethren groups. This is a two-part class. Plan to take both parts.

ONE FOUNDATION

This course is intended to lay down a measure in a world where truth is slippery and often subject to interpretation. Where “Christian Values” become a political slogan, and “good people” are our allies despite their faulty core beliefs. Where Facebook “friends” post memes about the power of God, despite a lifestyle that is anything but Godly. In the process we often fight among ourselves, doing Satan’s work for him. The purpose of this course is to lay the measure of Jesus Christ against the cults, religions, and worship in our contemporary world.

THE APOCRYPHA

While Protestant translations of the Bible contain 66 books, the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches recognize additional canonical books as well.  Where did these books, collectively known as the Apocrypha, come from and why aren’t they part of our Bible?  How reliable are they, and what value is there in studying them?

STUDIES IN 1 AND 2 PETER

The goal of this class is to acquire a firm grasp of the teachings and themes of these two general epistles. Peter covers topics from salvation and suffering to spiritual deception and the return of Christ. These letters are packed with warnings and encouragements for Christian living.

THE GREAT I AM’S OF CHRIST

A detailed study of Jesus Christ and His relationship to the “I Am” metaphors in John’s gospel. Why did Jesus describe himself in these terms? How do they relate to each other? We will look at spiritual and practical applications to further our Christian growth.

JEHOVAH’S WITNESSES: AN AMERICAN CULT

Have you ever been visited by someone who said they wanted to study the Bible with you so that you might discover the truth together?  Jehovah’s Witnesses claim to have much in common with evangelical Christians, and they seem to be well versed in the scriptures.  But what do they really believe and how can we effectively witness to those who have been ensnared by this false religion?

THE BOOK OF HOSEA

While we may consider Hosea as one of the minor prophets, his message vividly illustrates the major doctrine in all Scriptures.  The theme of God’s unconditional love is magnified and extended beyond those deserving it.  God expresses tender words towards His erring people inviting them to turn from sin to reconciliation with Him.

CHURCH LEADERSHIP AND ADMINISTRATION

This course will look at basic principles and polity of leading the local church. We will examine the balance between upholding a spiritually focused organism of ministry and cultivating proper order for effective organization. Practical applications will be emphasized. This is a two-part class. Plan to take both parts.

STATEMENT OF CONDUCT

The Brethren Bible Institute believes in the discipline of the whole person (spirit, soul, and body). We will aim to train students not only about how to study the Bible in a systematic way (2 Timothy 2:15), but also how to live soberly and righteously and godly in this present world (Titus 2:12). God calls Christians to the highest of character when He commands us to be holy (1 Peter 1:15), and holiness requires discipline.

Indulgence in the use of tobacco, alcoholic beverages, drugs, profanity, and gambling are forbidden at BBI. Objectionable literature will be prohibited. Students are asked not to use the college pool during the Institute. Each student must be thoughtful, and respect the rights of others at all times, especially during study and rest periods.

A friendly social group intermingling of students between class periods, and at general school activities is encouraged. Each student should enjoy the friendship of the entire group. At all times, highest standards of social conduct between men and women must be maintained. This means that all forms of unbecoming behavior and unseemly familiarities will be forbidden.

Personal appearance and grooming tell much about one's character. Students are expected to be dressed in good taste. In an attempt to maintain Scriptural expressions of simplicity, modesty, and nonconformity, the following regulations shall be observed while attending BBI.

MEN should be neatly attired and groomed at all times. Fashion extremes and the wearing of jewelry should be avoided on campus. The hair should not fall over the shirt-collar when standing, nor should it cover the ears.

WOMEN should wear skirts cut full enough and of sufficient length to at least come to the knees when standing and sitting. Form-fitting, transparent, low-neckline, or sleeveless clothing will not be acceptable. Slacks and culottes are permitted only for recreation and then only when worn under a skirt of sufficient length. Wearing jewelry should be avoided on campus. Long hair for women is encouraged and all Church of the Brethren girls (and others with like convictions) shall be veiled on campus.

The Institute reserves the right to dismiss any student whose attitude and behavior is not in harmony with the ideals of the School, or whose presence undermines the general welfare of the School, even if there is no specific breach of conduct.

The Brethren Bible Institute is intended to provide sound Bible teaching and wholesome Christian fellowship for all who desire it. The Bible School Committee worked hard and long at the task of arriving at standards, which will be pleasing to the Lord. It is not always easy to know just where the line should be drawn and we do not claim perfection. No doubt certain standards seem too strict for some and too loose for others. If you are one who does not share all these convictions, we hope you will agree to adjust to them for the School period, for the sake of those who do. We are confident that the blessings received will far outweigh any sacrifice you may have to make. If you have a special problem or question, please write to us about it. To be accepted as a student at BBI, you will need to sign a statement indicating that you will cooperate with the standards of the School.